A divorce is often the first time many people have had to interact with the family court system in Washington. Going through a divorce is already stressful enough. An experienced Washington family law attorney can help guide you through the process, keep you informed of all your options, and fight to make sure you get what you are owed.
Issues in a Washington Divorce
The Law Offices of Alesha Struthers provides clients in Pierce County, Snohomish County, King County, and throughout western Washington with all aspects of family law representation, including, but not limited to:
- Filing for Divorce
- Responding to Divorce Filing
- Legal Separation
- Child Support
- Property Division
- Spousal Support and Alimony
- Separation Agreements
- Parenting Plans
Process for Filing for Divorce in Washington
To get a divorce in Washington, a spouse has to be legally married in Washington, another state, or another country. Either spouse has to reside in Washington but there may be exceptions for military members. The spouse filing for divorce has to believe the marriage is “irretrievably broken,” and at least 90 days must have passed between the date of service and finalizing the divorce orders.
The process for filing for a divorce in Washington begins with filing a Summons and Petition for Dissolution of Marriage. The divorce papers are generally filed in the county where either spouse lives. After filing, copies have to be served on the other spouse. The responding spouse generally has 20 days to file a response to the petition.
If the other spouse does not respond to the divorce petition, the divorce will be considered uncontested. The petitioning spouse can file a motion to allow the judge to make a ruling without the other spouse's response. After waiting a minimum 90-day waiting period, the court can dissolve the marriage. The divorce will then be finalized and the couple will no longer be considered legally married.
Legal separation is an alternative to divorce where it essentially does the same thing, but the marriage is not legally dissolved. Individuals or couples may have cultural, legal, or other reasons for not wanting to get a divorce that still provides for child custody and property division.
Child Custody and Parenting Plans After a Divorce
When the divorcing couple has children, the courts first require the parents to go through a parenting education seminar. This is to educate parents about how a divorce can affect children, and it provides information about how to work together in caring for the children during and after the divorce.
Child custody can be one of the most disputed issues in a divorce. Parents may try and get full custody or dispute the amount of visitation given to the other parent. This may include accusations that the other parent is unfit or not able to care for the child.
The parents can work together to come up with a parenting plan that is acceptable to both parties and provides for the best interests of the child. This can include establishing the custodial parent, visitation schedules, and responsibilities of the parties.
Property Division After a Divorce
Property division can also be heavily disputed. How property and assets are treated in a Washington divorce generally depends on what is considered community property and separate property. Separate property generally goes back to the individual spouse and community property is divided equitably between the spouses. What is individual and shared property or debt is not always clear.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Spousal support is an amount of money paid by one spouse to the other. This can depend on a lot of factors, including the income of each spouse, the lifestyle of the couple, prenuptial agreements, and other factors. If you have any questions about alimony or spousal support after a divorce petition has been served, talk to your Washington divorce attorney about your rights and what you need to do to get spousal support.
Responsive Divorce Law Attorney in Tacoma
A divorce can be one of the most stressful events in a person's life but you do not have to go through it alone. Understanding your options and making sure you have someone to guide you through the process can go a long way to helping you and your family through a divorce. With offices in Mill Creek, Tacoma, and Tukwila, we provide divorce and family law services for our clients throughout western Washington. Contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers today for a free consultation to get personalized attention for your divorce.